The Constant Experimentation in the name of Education Reforms: Isn’t Enough Enough?

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Kofi Adoli’s Letter to the Left

Dear Comrades,

The Free SHS has made a drunken entry into the lives of young Ghanaians. And it continues its stuttered journey, albeit apace through the days numbering the lives of young students across the country. As we watch its stagger with bated breath, we see yet another attempt by operatives of the party in government today lascerating Ghana’s education system with the dreaded shift system.

My hope is that the suggested shift system does not gain acceptance. Indeed, if it does, it would be the most thoughtless attempt at solving the real challenge of inadequate provision of infrastructure, facilities and teachers for our education system. This approach by the Minister, if confirmed, overlooks the real issues and provides the wrong solutions.

Education reforms do not just get done off the cuff as is being the case with these new proposals from Minister Matthew Opoku Prempeh which include appeal for funds, securitization of the GETfund proceeds and a 25% capping. It must be based on a thorough research which takes into account views of key stakeholderssuch such as the Ghana Education Service, Teachers Unions, the Curriculum Research and Development Division, Parents and many more.

My freshest memory of the earliest reforms attempted on Ghana’s education system is of a series of reports by the Professors Gyampoe and Dzobo committees of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Their works consulted with all the stakeholders and yielded the most major proposed reforms of the country’s education system. It was named the New Education Reforms which started through Experimental schools and saw a full implementation across the country in 1987.

The new reform brought benefits to the country. It focused more on practical skill education than the hitherto literary and arts biased predecessor system. Across the country technical, craft, hospitality and other skills workshops were dotted on school campuses. The government backed this reforms with policy and regulatory frameworks to minimise shortfals and to ensure success. Funding gaps were anticipated and significant investments were made leading to the provisions stated above. But the gap in the provision of education infrastructure remained significant at the time intakes were growing each year.

That notwithstanding space was made to connect pupils to the end-products of such hands-on education. As a result Education trips became the order of the day. I remember, as a 19 year old Technical Skills and Drawing teacher, leading the pupils of Juapong Textiles Limited Junior Secondary School to the Arts Centre and the International Airport in Accra for them to have a good appreciation of the possible end result of the skills they were acquiring in class at the time.

All things being equal, if they took their education seriously, and the education system provided the requisite quality of instruction, these pupils were expected to spur innovation in arts, craft, manufacturing, architecture and scientific discovery and spearhead Ghana’s rise on the global economic stage.

But, alas, by the turn of the century it was clear that the system’s appetite for the arts and literary scholarship remained more pronounced than the skills-focus anticipated.

The graduands did not set up small businesses through which their acquired skills would yield tangible productivity and innovation. Industry was not expanding employment for their skills. Industry incubator policies became havens for political tokenism than visionary missions.

Worse, internal and foreign demand for made-in-Ghana products continued to take a nose-dive. So if craftsmen created or innovated items, market didn’t exist for them.

Instead of focusing on driving demand for such skills by expanding markets for Ghanaian products and manufacturing, the new government of President Kufuor decided to engage in another very wild experimentation.

But the lagging provision of classrooms, teachers and other teaching/learning materials did not abate.

It is this lack of provision of adequate facilities and teachers which underpin the weaknesses of our education system from delivering a globally competitive, employable and intellectually adept citizen.

And this is where the Free SHS policy-by-mouth is proving to be another major experiment on the vulnerable and already frustrated young population. The document from the office of the Minister of Education aimed at preparing the ministry and the Ghana Education Service for the next academic year exposes the provision gap now more than ever. Whereas 521 thousand students registered for the pre-SHS BECE exams only about 60% of the that are expected to make it to the so-called free SHS stage. And even for that, the government is not prepared with adequate provisions to ensure delivery of quality teaching and learning.

Sadly the proposed solutions by the Minister in the document reflect more tokenism than the thought-through approach of the late 70s and early 80s.

In the end what is at stake are the lives and fortunes of the next generation of the citizens, leaders and captains of destiny of this great country. Indeed when a good look is given at the piecemeal and often adhoc tinkering of the education system of Ghana does the political leaders ofbthe New Patriotic Party really hold on for a minute or cringe about the likely effect of such experimentation on the future of each young life aspiring to make something good out for him or herself and for the country?

Its widely acknowledged that the focus of the erstwhile government of President Mahama on bridging the gap by massively building classrooms and supplying furniture, computers and teachers where the gaps existed remains the solution to the country’s seemingly illusive quest to attaining a world-class education system.

But, tragically, the young Ghanaian seems to be confronted with uet another adhoc experimentation borne out of the quest to point-score in the short term whiles deep problems linger on to the the country’s and people’s detriment.

I ask, isn’t the constant experimentation on our education system enough?

Until next week, keep left and avoid the next police beatings or shootings. You may not get the attention of government appointees having some sympathy and money to spare.

Yours truly,

By Kofi Adoli.

22nd July, 2018,

Source: Daily Post.

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